Pregnancy Leave Laws
Pregnant employees may be concerned that their jobs could be in jeopardy after the birth of their children, forcing them to choose between spending time with their baby and returning to work. Fortunately, federal law guarantees that some parents are legally entitled to job-protected leave after they give birth. The New York City pregnancy discrimination attorneys of Phillips & Associates have a deep understanding of the laws that protect pregnant employees in the workplace, and can answer the questions you may have about your rights at work.FEDERAL LAW GUARANTEES SOME PREGNANT EMPLOYEES LEAVE FROM WORK
New York state does not have any pregnancy leave laws, and although New York passed a law that gives expectant parents the right to a reasonable accommodation while pregnant, there is no guarantee of maternity leave under New York City law. Fortunately, federal law gives some individuals the right to a job-protected leave after the birth of their children.THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT PROTECTS A PREGNANT EMPLOYEE’S JOB
In addition to the rights protected by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, some pregnant employees retain the right to take unpaid leave from work to care for their newborn children. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows any new parent (including adoptive parents, foster parents, and fathers) to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for new children. The employee can take the leave at any point during the first year after the birth of the child. The biggest benefit of the leave is that it is job-protected, meaning that the employer must give the employee their job back when they return to work.
To qualify for FMLA leave, the employee must:
- Work for a covered employer that has at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite;
- Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, which do not have to be consecutive; and
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours for her employer in the last year (about 24 hours a week).
There are also notice requirements that the employee taking the leave must abide by. In addition, employers are required to give notice to their employees that they are subject to the FMLA. If you have questions about the FMLA requirements for employees or employers, ask an experienced attorney.EMPLOYERS WHO VIOLATE THE FMLA MAY BE SUBJECT TO DAMAGES
A plaintiff who files a successful complaint against their employer for a violation of the FMLA can recover compensatory damages, which are meant to compensate plaintiffs for the costs of the employer’s illegal behavior. In some cases plaintiffs may also collect liquidated damages equal to the amount of the compensatory damages. The plaintiff can also seek a remedy that may be specific to their case, such as reinstatement of their job if they were wrongfully terminated.ADDITIONAL PROTECTIONS UNDER NEW YORK STATE LAW
Under the Paid Family Leave law in New York State, eligible employees will receive job-protected and paid time off in many situations that are similar to those covered by the FMLA. These include bonding with a child who has just been born or brought into the family as an adopted or foster child. New York employees also receive protections under the Paid Family Leave law if they need to take time off from work to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition, or to assist family members when their spouse (or domestic partner), child, or parent is deployed on active military service in another country. Your employer cannot take away your job or your health insurance while taking this leave, and they cannot discriminate or retaliate against you for taking this leave.
As of 2019, you can take up to 10 weeks of leave under this law, and the maximum amount will increase to 12 weeks by 2021. During your period of leave, you will receive 55 percent of your average weekly wage, up to a cap of 55 percent of the Statewide Average Weekly Wage. The Paid Family Leave law has been celebrated as the most expansive and powerful family leave law in the nation.CONSULT AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY
Pregnant workers should not have to choose between their family and their career. The New York City pregnancy leave lawyers at Phillips & Associates have helped countless pregnant employees protect their rights at work. If you believe that you were denied leave by your employer in violation of the FMLA, schedule a free consultation by calling (212) 248-7431 or filling out our online contact form.
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